Food safety project nets £6.5m funding from Europe

Scientists hope technology can go on to save many lives. Picture: Contributed
Scientists hope technology can go on to save many lives. Picture: Contributed
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A project that is using nanotechnology to improve food safety and protect the health of vulnerable patients has received a seven-figure funding injection.

The James Watt Nanofabrication Centre at the University of Glasgow is part of the North West Centre for Advanced Manufacturing – a so-called “supercluster” of academic institutions and businesses.

The project has received £6.5 million through a European Union funding programme.

Students at the University of Glasgow are working with Nuprint Technologies in Londonderry, northern Ireland, on a research project which looks at the uses of conductive ink technology to ensure prescription medication has been delivered safely, and to indicate if food has been exposed to the wrong temperature for a period of time.

Using this technology on food labels and on patient hospital wristbands would provide critical information that could potentially save lives.

Professor Steve Beaumont of the University of Glasgow said: “This project is helping to bring academic institutions and businesses together at an earlier stage in the manufacturing process.

“Companies get the chance to get involved in groundbreaking research projects and academic institutions help create jobs for the future.

“We need to make nanotechnology smarter and perform even better across a range of different sectors. Without this research, we cannot improve it.

“It is hoped that the labels using conductive ink technology will be brought to market within three years.”

The North West Centre for Advanced Manufacturing project is being led by Northern Irish science park, Catalyst.

Professor Eileen Harkin-Jones at Ulster University will oversee activities to be carried out by 13 PhD students and 13 post-doctoral researchers across the four research partners – Ulster University, Sligo Institute of Technology, Letterkenny Institute of Technology and the University of Glasgow.

There are four main research themes across the project – additive manufacture, advanced polymers, nanomanufacturing and sustainable manufacturing.

Welcoming the funding, Gina McIntyre, head of the Special EU Programmes Body, which manages the EU’s Interreg VA Programme, said: “This investment is testament to the EU’s commitment to enhancing research and innovation.

“The project encourages universities and businesses to work together for wider economic benefit and is a great demonstration of cross-border working.

“Industry partners have identified a need for this research and it really does have the potential to change lives.”